Friday, 14 February 2014

Easy does it on Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, so we'll be staying at home with something easy to assemble and a bit special and, of course, something decent to drink. This year our 7-year-old will be enjoying some of it with us before she heads up to bed.

It has not always been this way. One year I cooked this a rather elaborate spread for an old boyfriend using recipes from the rather fabulous Cordon Bleu and Constance Spry Entertaining. It's well worth getting hold of a second-hand copy as it's a splendid period piece. Margot Leadbetter probably had a well-used copy on her kitchen shelf – handy for when Jerry's boss came round for dinner. Our meal was delicious, but very rich, and after lining dariole moulds with spinach, whipping up choux pastry hearts and cooking a live lobster, I wasn't up for much romance that evening. Lesson learned.

Another year, I recall being on a student trip to Paris which coincided with Valentine's Day and having to try to find our large group somewhere to eat in the Latin Quarter. The evening was dominated by trawling up and down Rue Mouffetard inquiring at candle-lit restaurants full of whispering couples whether they could accommodate 20 of us. Amazingly, we did find a large bistro happy to have us and we ended up having a jolly noisy time. Much more fun than the hushed tones along the street.

Anyway, back to this year. On the menu tonight will be brown shrimps to nibble before we three settle down to Chinese duck and pancakes (a kit from Waitrose). Then, once young miss has retired upstairs, N and I will be having veal chops, followed by mont blanc. Winewise, some youngish red Burgundy or cru Beaujolais should see us nicely through the meal, then maybe a drop of Samos Muscat.

Whatever you're doing, Happy Valentine's Day.

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